Friday, June 18, 2010

Danger Awaiting

It was back on January 19 that Glenn Greenwald wrote in Salon of

the grotesque immorality of the "Look Forward, Not Backwards" consensus which our political class -- led by the President -- has embraced. During the Bush years, the United States government committed some of the most egregious crimes a government can commit. They plainly violated domestic law, international law, and multiple treaties to which the U.S. has long been a party. Despite that, not only has President Obama insisted that these crimes not be prosecuted, and not only has his Justice Department made clear that -- at most -- they will pursue a handful of low-level scapegoats, but far worse, the Obama administration has used every weapon it possesses to keep these crimes concealed, prevent any accountability for them, and even venerated them as important "state secrets," thus actively preserving the architecture of lawlessness and torture that gave rise to these crimes in the first place.

Every Obama-justifying excuse for Looking Forward, Not Backwards has been exposed as a sham (recall, for instance, the claim that we couldn't prosecute Bush war crimes because it would ruin bipartisanship and Republicans wouldn't support health care reform).

How has that bipartisanship been working for you, Mr. President? To Rush Limbaugh, the $20 billion fund (to be administered independently government) President Obama has persuaded BP to set aside to reimburse victims of the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history is a "slush fund." To Texas Representative Joe Barton, he of the on-again, off-again apology, it is a "shakedown." But it's not only the hard right of the GOP with Rachel Maddow explaining Thursday that

Joe Barton is not an outlier here in the Republican Party. And this is the most important thing about what happened today. He is not an outlier by any stretch of the imagination.

Yesterday, after the White House got BP to agree to set aside $20 billion for oil spill victims, the House Republican Study Committee blasted out a statement declaring, quote, “The Obama administration is hard at work exerting its brand of Chicago-style shakedown politics.” Just like Joe Barton, attacking the White House for getting BP to set aside $20 billion for BP oil spill victims, even using the same shakedown epithet.

The House Republican Study Committee isn‘t a little outlier either.

It‘s not some, one random congressman from Texas tied to the oil industry. The House Republican Study Committee is 114 House Republicans. It‘s two-thirds, nearly two-thirds of all Republicans in the House.

But at least the GOP appreciates the President's ongoing effort to "reach across the aisle," appeal for bipartisanship, and search for consensus, rather than to take the advice of Greenwald and other silly liberals interested in justice.

Not so much. Politico reports

Rep. Darrell Issa, the conservative firebrand whose specialty is lobbing corruption allegations at the Obama White House, is making plans to hire dozens of subpoena-wielding investigators if Republicans win the House this fall.

The California Republican’s daily denunciations draw cheers from partisans and bookings from cable TV producers. He even bought his own earphone for live shots. But his bombastic style and attention-seeking investigations draw eye rolls from other quarters. Now, he’s making clear he won’t be so easy to shrug off if he becomes chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in 2011.

Issa has told Republican leadership that if he becomes chairman, he wants to roughly double his staff from 40 to between 70 and 80. And he is not subtle about what that means for President Barack Obama.

At a recent speech to Pennsylvania Republicans here, he boasted about what would happen if the GOP wins 39 seats, and he gets the power to subpoena.

“That will make all the difference in the world,” he told 400 applauding party members during a dinner at the chocolate-themed Hershey Lodge. “I won’t use it to have corporate America live in fear that we’re going to subpoena everything. I will use it to get the very information that today the White House is either shredding or not producing.”

In other words, Issa wants to be to the Obama administration what Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) was to the Clinton administration — a subpoena machine in search of White House scandals.

This is a party, intimidated by the Tea Party, Glenn Beck supporters, and Rush Limbaugh which has been taken over by the far right, even to the point of undermining its own conservative members of Congress (remember Dede Scozzafava?) when they're suspected of being reasonable. They do not play by the Marquess of Queensberry rules and if they win control of the House of Representatives later this year, they're coming after Barack Obama. And it's not to congratulate him on being the first black President.

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